Rainbow flags at Leeds Pride: photo by Clare Bell, published under a Creative Commons license.
Touchstone has a strong commitment to supporting inclusion and diversity – not just in the work we do with others, but also within our team of staff and volunteers. Ed Long reports on the latest initiatives being led by the Pink Pals, our Touchstone-wide LGBT Allies Programme.
One day short of the 45th  anniversary of the Stonewall Riots of 28th June 1969, Touchstone held  the inaugural meeting of Pink Pals, our version of Stonewall’s Allies programme.  The Allies programme is intended to give all staff tangible and visible proof of an organisation’s commitment to LGBT equality by harnessing the passion of its staff to make this a reality.  Here at Touchstone, we are proud to be Stonewall Top 100 employers, finishing 19th in the 2015 index, and we want to improve our rating to become Top 10 Employers by 2017.
The Pink Pals who attended the first meeting were passionate about ensuring LGB and T equality in Touchstone and came up with lots of innovative suggestions about how to show their commitment and increase their visibility to all staff.  First of all, the Pals developed their Mission Statement, from which all our activity will flow:
“For those who have been stigmatised, discriminated against and silenced because of fear or shame, we offer to be your voice, to hold your hands, to stand by your side, and we promise to fight for an end to your mistreatment and suffering. We are your Allies. We will: Come out, Speak Out, Join In.”
Touchstone Pink Pals are:

  • Amrit Kaur Gata-Aura
  • Nicole Quartermain
  • Sonia Senior
  • Joe Shortland
  • Vanysha Sahota
  • Nelson Wande
  • Naseem Tariq
  • Nafisa Miraf
  • Georgia Hornby
  • Paul Allen
  • Sanjeev Dayal
  • Ed Long
  • Alison Lowe
  • Jen Mak
  • Jay Silver
  • Thembi Moyo

LGBT Staff who have any problems or concerns about harassment or different treatment are welcome to approach Pink Pals for help and support or they may access the joint Touchstone and Probation Staff Network Group, “Out for Justice” whose meetings are advertised via Touchstone’s staff newsletter and emails from the management team.
Since that first meeting in 2014, Pink Pals have been very busy.  We have helped review the Bullying and Harassment Policy and made sure that Pink Pals was included.  We have written the Stonewall Workplace Equality Action Plan 2015 to enable us to get in the top 10 most gay-friendly employers list by 2017 and we have led on organising an LGBT History Month event at the Leeds City Museum, in partnership with Women’s Health Matters.  About 50 people attended the day and Made in Leeds TV turned up to film the event too.
Pink Pals were able to raise awareness of LGBT History Month with people in Leeds who we might never normally work with and the event was so successful, we have been invited back next year.
On 27th May 2015, Pink Pals will be hosting a staff-only LGBT film afternoon.  “Pride” will be screened at the Support Centre with a “pink tea” for refreshments from 2pm.
We are also planning to deliver an LGBT Awareness raising training session to our suppliers in July, so that we can know the people who work in our buildings and in service users’ homes, understand why equality and diversity is important and that they actively support this.
Pink Pals are also promoting the International Day Against Homophobia, Bi-phobia and Transphobia on 16th May where we hope to have a stall.
Pink Pals are Touchstone staff who care about equality and creating a safe workplace for all.